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It’s been raining continuously for three days now on this little Spanish island.  Though Mondays are my market days, I had no desire to battle the elements today.  I’ve had enough waging war against a persistent head cold.  Indoor and captive, it was time for some further pantry scavenging.

About a week ago and on a whim, I had purchased a bag of quinoa flour.  I’ve actually been staring at it for days, wondering what to attempt.  It’s a rather small bag, 500 grams, purchased on a trek into the city and during a bit of a shopping spree at Terra Verde – probably the largest natural and organic product store in Palma de Mallorca, though still quaint by U.S. standards.  Things that are most likely superbly stocked at any Whole Foods in the States are a hard find in Europe and especially on the island.  Thus, I had hoarded the little bag of flour into my shopping basket like a kid in a candy store.  So whatever I decided to make needed to be good.

The cold dismal weather begged to be offset with something hearty and warm – pretty next to (in my cold shoo-ing efforts) a mid-afternoon steaming mug of tea.  And yes, the arrival of near winter weather had put me in a baking sort of mood.

Pomegranate Quinoa Muffins (yields ~1 dozen)

Dry Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 pints (2 1/2 cups) quinoa flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 pint (1/2 cup) chopped walnuts

Wet ingredients:

  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1/4 pint (1/2 cup) walnut oil (vegetable oil also works)
  • 1/4 pint (1/2 cup) honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • seeds of 1 large (or 2 medium sized) pomegranate

Preheat oven to 150 degrees C (~300 degrees F) and grease muffin tin(s).  Combine all dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.  Using a food processor or blender, combine all wet ingredients, excluding pomegranate seeds.

Next, fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients and add in the pomegranate seeds.  Divide the dough into each individual muffin tin; unlike gluten based flours, the quinoa flour doesn’t rise very much, so a healthy amount of dough for each muffin is okay.  Bake for ~20-30 minutes.   The muffins should be lightly browned on top, and done when a toothpick can be inserted and taken out cleanly.

Fruits and nuts can be varied – two lonely pomegranates hugged my fruit basket this afternoon.  I also threw in 3 tablespoons of chia seeds (high in omega-3s) for good measure.  Moreover, if additional sweetness is desired, increase the amount of honey by another 1/4 pint (1/2 cup).  I tend to add sweetness after the fact – a drizzle of honey or a good dollop of thick jam.  Especially with the extreme nuttiness of the quinoa, this worked well.

I really liked using the quinoa flour.  My previous attempts at a gluten-free muffin featured almond flour.  However, the almond flour required more eggs to give it a muffin-like texture and still turned out a bit overly mealy.

After a bit of online nerding, some added notes regarding the use of quinoa as a white/wheat flour substitution:

  • reduce cooking time
  • reduce cooking temperature
  • increase amount of moisture and/or binding agents
  • can be combined with other types of flour – gluten/non-gluten based
Looking forward to another experiment… when the rain stops and shopping resumes.
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